By ERIC WITTMERSHAUS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A swimmer since the age of 5, Montgomery’s Jenna Bauer learned how to swim from the best instructors around. She jumped in the pool for lessons at Santa Rosa’s Neptune Swim Club after watching her older brother, Kyle, work with its instructors.
Nearly a lifetime of dedication to her sport paid off for Bauer this spring, her sophomore season, when she broke all-time Empire records at the NCS meet in Concord. Bauer’s time of 1:48.95 in the 200-yard freestyle bested a mark set last year by Windsor’s Allie Davis and earned Bauer a silver medal. She also brought home a bronze in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:49.52, nearly four seconds faster than Davis’ Empire record from 2010.
Bauer and her coaches had plenty cause for optimism headed into NCS. At the North Bay League meet a week before, Bauer topped former Cal swim star Amanda Sims’ meet record in the 500 free by more than 7 seconds, posting the second-best time in Empire history in the event.
“I was going to meets for Neptunes and … dropping a bunch of times throughout the season,” Bauer said of the jump she made her sophomore year. “I knew NCS would be a place to drop more times.”
Shelly Kelley, Bauer’s coach at Montgomery, said the swimmer started shaving time off her personal records way earlier in the season than is customary, hinting at her record-setting performance.
“The idea is you train really hard throughout the season and not rest until it’s time for you to start dropping times,” Kelley said.
“The fact that she was hitting her goal times during the season was huge.”
Like a lot of her Neptunes cohorts, Bauer has cut back on some of her nonswimming extracurricular activities to devote more time to her sport.
“I used to play basketball and soccer, but I had to quit just because swimming got so much more intense,” she said. “There’s many times where my friends are like, ‘Come hang out with me,’ … and I’m just too exhausted or have to nap.”
Her high school coach, a former collegiate swimmer, said Bauer’s dedication could take her places.
“She has huge potential. It’ll just depend on where she wants to go with that,” Kelley said. “She could definitely make (Olympic) Trials in four years and be a contender.
“I definitely see her as a DivisionI collegiate swimmer, but it’s got to be up to her.”
Kelley called Bauer “a delightful personality” who’s “motivational just by being who she is.”
Kelley, who unlike Bauer’s Neptune coaches is managing a team made up of swimmers of widely varying commitment levels, lauded the ease with which Bauer interacts with her teammates and passes on pointers she’s learned from her swim club.
“She’s hit with so much intensity at her training,” Kelley said. “So we try to make it more enjoyable for her. She’s just part of the team. She doesn’t expect any more or less.”
Eric Wittmershaus is The Press Democrat’s online sports editor. You can reach him at 521-5433 or email@example.com.
2012 ALL-EMPIRE GIRLS SWIM TEAM
SWIMMER OF THE YEAR
Jenna Bauer, Montgomery, sophomore
Rebecca Baxley, Analy, junior
Haley Cahill, Petaluma, senior
Lindsay Clark-Warren, Windsor, senior
Allie Davis, Windsor, senior
Jessica Lee, Windsor, freshman
Micaela Luders, Windsor, sophomore
Lily Maxfield, Analy, freshman
Kate Sabourin, Montgomery, junior
Riley Scott, Petaluma, freshman
Reid Whaley, Casa Grande, junior
Taylor Young, Cardinal Newman, junior
Dawn Barlow, Summerfield Waldorf, senior
Ariana Bates, Montgomery, senior
Ashley Boyle, Analy, senior
Madeline Cline, Ukiah, freshman
Mariah Larwood, Ukiah, freshman
Victoria Le, Maria Carrillo, freshman
Jessica Marshall, Maria Carrillo, freshman
Angelica Nowack, Montgomery, sophomore
Julia Personeni, Cardinal Newman, junior
Celine Sargis, Santa Rosa, sophomore
Allison Straus, Cardinal Newman, senior
Erin Sullivan, Montgomery, senior
COACH OF THE YEAR
Lehla Irwin, Analy
-All-Empire team compiled by Ruben DiRado